Home Sports Promising Bills aren’t ready to capitalize on Tom Brady-less AFC East

Promising Bills aren’t ready to capitalize on Tom Brady-less AFC East

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The Bills enter the 2020 season as the favorites in the AFC East for the first time since the 1990s.

Head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have turned the franchise around over the past three years. Buffalo went 10-6 last year and made the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Bills boast a strong defense, and third-year quarterback Josh Allen leads the offense. The Bills made a huge splash in the offseason by trading for wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Now, the Bills will have to handle high expectations, something that is new for them.

Here is a look at the 2020 Bills

What they were

The Bills had a devastating ending to a strong season. Allen showed promise in his second season and the moves Beane made in the offseason paid dividends. They had the No. 3 defense in the NFL and were strong at every level. The season, though, ended in disappointment when they blew a 16-point lead and lost to the Texans in overtime in a wild-card game.

Key losses

RB Frank Gore (signed by Jets), DE Shaq Lawson (signed by Dolphins), DT Jordan Phillips (signed by Cardinals), LB Lorenzo Alexander (retired)

Key additions

Veteran: WR Stefon Diggs (trade from Vikings), CB Josh Norman, DE Mario Addison, LB A.J. Klein.

NFL draft: DE A.J. Epenesa (Iowa), RB Zack Moss (Utah), WR Gabriel Davis (UCF), QB Jake Fromm (Georgia)

Buffalo Bills AFC East Tom Brady
Josh Allen and Ed Oliver after the Bills’ wild-card loss to the Texans in January.Getty Images

The outlook

Allen has shown plenty of promise in his first two years, but he has not convinced everyone he will be an elite quarterback. This season will come down to how much progress he can make. He threw 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year. Can he improve on those numbers?

The Bills went out and gave him a nice weapon in Diggs, who has had 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. That was with Kirk Cousins. It will be interesting to see how Diggs clicks with Allen and if he raises a stink if he is not getting the ball as much as he wants.

Buffalo found something last year in running back Devin Singletary, who rushed for 775 yards in 12 games. The Bills let Gore walk in free agency and now Singletary can be the lead back.

Leslie Frazier’s defense was one of the best in the league last year. They will miss Phillips, who had a strong season, and Lawson. But this defense still has enough firepower for expectations to be high. Norman is not what he was, but the Bills don’t need him to be with Tre’Davious White on the other side.

Reason for hope

It felt like the Bills arrived a year early last year. The addition of Diggs makes them a stronger offense on paper and Allen has another year with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. They showed they were a playoff team last year. The next step is winning the division.

Reason for despair

The Bills have not made consecutive playoff appearances since 1998-99 and have not won a playoff game since 1995. The odds are against Buffalo making it back to the playoffs this year. They also will not sneak up on any teams now. They will get their opponents’ best shot.

Final word

The key to the Bills season is how they handle raised expectations. The Bills are now viewed as the favorites in the AFC East with Tom Brady gone. I’m not sure how they will handle that. I think they could stumble and have a tough season.

Too-early prediction

Last place in AFC East.

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